Recap: Marvel’s The Punisher, Season 2, episodes 8-13

For Frank Castle, life can be a war. In the second half of his second season, he has two to fight: one against a former friend, the other against a righteous assassin who is starting to doubt his faith. The collateral damage will affect many others, and will again spark the debate about whether he is a hero only because the villain is even worse.


SPOILERS BELOW

SPOILERS BELOW

The show has decided the main battle is between Frank and Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) since both men have a lot of unfinished business. Now that Russo remembers Frank scarred his face, his focus is revenge, and a crime spree with fellow vets. Frank wants to take Russo down his way, although Detective Mahoney (Royce Johnson) and Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) prefer to do it through more legal means.

Too bad it’s gone too far. Russo accuses his shrink/lover Krista Dumont (Fiorina Lima) of trying to control him, while Frank gets very angry at Amy (Giorgia Whigham) when she tries to learn how to fight back. Both men are on the edge.

The key moment is episode ten, when Frank plans to infiltrate Russo’s HQ, while Madani and Dumont debate over who is the real monster, Frank or Russo. Dumont claims she has faith in Russo’s ability to change, while Frank thinks his brutality is for a greater good. It becomes apparent that Dumont really wanted to help Russo break Frank by getting info from Madani.
Russo and his gang beat Frank to a bloody pulp, though Frank keeps fighting. Frank arrives at a room with the bodies of three women, with the police coming a few seconds later. He’s tricked into believing he did this, and he gives up. Russo gets his revenge.

This would have worked if it happened a little earlier in the series, maybe episode eight or nine. Since it was so late, the writers had to rush an escape attempt by Amy, and an effort to prove his innocence thanks to the return of Karen Page (Deborah Ann Wohl).

This was followed by Mahoney trying to drag Frank to a police station via ambulance while Pilgrim tries to kill them both. The ambulance is forced off a highway and falls 15 feet, and Frank winds up rescuing Mahoney.

Speaking of Pilgrim (Josh Stewart), his efforts to serve right-wing industrialist Anderson Schultz (Corbin Bernsen) is taking a toll. Schultz puts a bounty on Frank and Amy for five million dollars because he really wants to make sure his future-president son is never outed as a homosexual. Even though Pilgrim is doing all of this for his family, he wonders if it’s really worth it. That comes clear when he’s reunited with Kusack (Kevin Chapman), who was with a white supremacist gang with him. Pilgrim took some money, then found religion after a bar fight. Kusack wants that bounty, and to make sure Pilgrim doesn’t. Pilgrim winds up as bloody as Frank, but kills Kusack.

Pilgrim’s later visited by Eliza Schultz (Annette O’Toole), Anderson’s wife, who tells him his wife has died and offers comfort. A few seconds later, she tells him to finish his mission in very angry and forceful terms. Her main commitment is “One Nation Under Schultz”, and it’s too bad the show didn’t do more with this.

It’s at this point Pilgrim looks back on what he’s done, and how he’s tried to justify his actions as a holy mission as his employers have. Still, he has a job to do: kill Frank and Amy.

Speaking of Amy, she is still just “there”. It seems the $5 million bounty was in the script to give her some significance. Because of the bounty, friends betray her and Pilgrim’s after her. If there was a firm backstory, instead of the fact she’s with Frank because she reminds him of the daughter he lost, it would have been better.

The season was uncertain who should get more attention, Russo or Pilgrim. It could have had Frank face a new enemy (Pilgrim) and how he’s backed by alt-right beliefs, making it a perfect fit for our times. It wanted a sequel to his battles against Russo.

In the final two episodes Russo gets more attacks from Madani rather than Frank. It’s revealed Dumont has been affected by her father’s suicide, where he jumped out of a window while carrying her when she was young. She hoped saving Russo would be the same as saving her dad, but it isn’t. That’s why she asks Madani to come over, and tries to kill her. Madani shoves Dumont out of a window, and Russo sees this. He nearly strangles Madani to death while she shoots him twice in the shoulder. Surprisingly, all three survive but are wounded.

Meanwhile, Frank kidnaps David Schultz, Anderson’s son, and accuses him of knowing what his parents are doing. David says he doesn’t, but he’s used in Frank’s battle with Pilgrim.

Amy is in the middle, as she’s grabbed by Pilgrim and offered as a trade for David (Todd Alan Crain). However, David is given to Mahoney, and Pilgrim and Frank are in a long brutal fight. Pilgrim asks Frank to spare his sons, and Frank agrees. The Schultzes are his target.

Meanwhile, both Anderson and Eliza get Pilgrim’s sons ready for their mom’s funeral, and she is already planning to influence the boys. Later, Amy and Frank get there, and point a gun at Eliza. She tries to stab them with a knife, but Frank shoots her in front of a shocked Anderson. He is then given a gun and a bullet, and gets a choice: kill himself or live with what he has done. The sound of a gunshot is heard while Pilgrim and his sons leave.

As for Russo, he winds up bleeding at Curtis Doyle’s (Jason R. Moore) basement where vets get a place to heal, not a place to die. Frank is there, and quickly kills Russo. It’s odd that this battle ends so quickly compared to the fight with Pilgrim.

Maybe it would have been better if the second season was in two parts, featuring Russo and Pilgrim. It would have made two good stories for Frank, rather than a season which had problems juggling both of them. A better way to link both would have if the Schultzes hired Russo.

After Amy leaves New York for a better life, Frank tries to heal. In the final scene, which takes place three months later, it isn’t long before he is punishing the bad guys again.

A third season isn’t certain, considering Netflix’s cancellation of other Marvel shows. Fans are hopeful he will show up again. wondering when a super-strong and super-grouchy detective will return to Netflix.

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Post Author: David Mello

Worked nearly eleven years at a radio station as a board operator, news reader, and assistant producer for baseball broadcasts. Have been a staff writer for Whedonopolis since July 2008